The day started around 7:45 this morning when the group left Camp Restore to go to our first volunteer activity. Since we were early we found a quaint little shop called “French Truck Coffee” to get some breakfast. The staff was incredible and super helpful to all of us lost looking people.
Our first volunteer activity was at Valence Cemetery with “Save Our Cemeteries”. This organization preserves tombs because the preservation of memories of loved ones is very important to the New Orleans culture. During our time at the cemetery we weeded around the tombs and picked up trash for about an hour. After that we ended up scrubbing tombs and the difference was amazing!
We ended up getting Jimmy John’s for lunch and eating at the cemetery. That was pretty neat and it only rained on us a little today. Once we finished volunteering we drove towards our activity for the day. We drove aimlessly through the French Quarter for about 20 minutes just trying to find a parking spot but after that was rendered futile we just found a parking lot and after realizing it was $30 per car we decided to try and find another one. After finally finding a parking lot we walked through the French Quarter (which was really cool but we get a tour of that another time, so I’m saving that for a different blog post). We went to the Presbytere (a museum) which has two exhibits: Mardi Gras and Hurricane Katrina. The Katrina exhibit elicited a lot of emotions for all of us, initially sadness but then awe at the way the community overcame what they went through and maintained their culture through it all. Going through the exhibit is definitely an in person experience and hard to really describe to anyone who hasn’t seen it before.
Once we were done at the museum we got the chance to explore the French Quarter a little on our own but all we did was head over to Cafe Du Monde for some beignets and hydration. Cafe Du Monde is said to have the best beignets in New Orleans, but since it’s the only place I’ve ever had beignets I cannot say if this is correct or not. They were really good though. While waiting in line for our food we had to pigeon dodge so that was fun. With beignets and drinks in hand we walked just down the sidewalk to a large set of steps and watched a street performance by Dragon Master Showcase (acrobatic breakdancers). They were funny and enticing enough to draw a very large crowd in but it was a very short lived experience. After leaving the French Quarter we returned to base and had corned beef, rice and a cabbage with carrot mix. We ended our day with a debrief of the day.
As before here are everyone’s favorite parts of the day:
Emily W.: “My favorite part of the day was being able to sit outside and eat beignets and watch the street performers.”
Clare: “My favorite part of the day was watching the street performers and enjoying the sun!”
Olivia: “Seeing everyone come together and have fun getting really muddy!”
Kalee: “Seeing the dirt instantly come off the tombs, so satisfying!”
Ann: “Getting to spend time outside while seeing and helping the community.”
Emily T.: “My favorite part was seeing the people of New Orleans and the festive side of the town.”
Jackie: “My favorite part was our group really connecting and enjoying the dirty work.”
Madison: “My favorite part was everyone maintaining positive attitudes and having a fun time together no matter what we are doing (along with the beignets + stretching of course).”
Karis: “Singing Disney while scrubbing the tomb “
Natasha: “My favorite part of the day was being able to watch everyone so easily come and work together despite not really knowing each other before this trip.”